Working with vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager

One of the products I’ve been meaning to take a look at is vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager. With the most recent release (1.2) I thought it was a good time to cover this piece of software.
In general, vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager  is used to manage the lifecycle of the products in the vRealize suite (hence the name :)). It covers vRealize Automation, Operations, Log Insight and Business for Cloud. It works with existing environments, where you import already deployed products, or you can use it to install any of these products into your environment. vRSLCM can also be used to keep an eye on configuration drift for the mentioned products. It will keep track off all configurations for different products in different environments so you can manage this more easily throughout your environment. There is also the option to manage the credentials and certificates for all vRealize Suite products from a central location. One of the new features in vRSLCM 1.2 is content management pipelines. You can now hook up Gitlab, vRA and vRO as endpoints and manage blueprints and workflows from development to production.

What I want to go over in this blog post is a use case I myself want to work through in my lab. I want to  upgrade vRSLCM from 1.1 to 1.2 and upgrade my vRA 7.3 environment to vRA 7.3.1.

Getting started

Since I had vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager 1.1 installed but not configured fully (or better, the OVA was deployed) I could have chosen the easy path and just replace it with the new version. In stead I chose to set up vRSLCM 1.1 with my vRA 7.3 environment and work from there.

Like I said, I had deployed the OVA already, this is a pretty straight forward deployment without too much fancy stuff. Just make sure you give it a name, certificate info and network settings. When the OVA is deployed and the appliance is started we can log in through a web browser. Just browse to the hostname and you are presented with the login page.

log in with the default credentials (admin@localhost, vmware) and reset the password when prompted. Now click-through the tutorial which will start (or close it with the x).

After clicking through the tutorial the first things that have to be done is create a data center and setup the vCenter connection.

Go to Manage Data Centers and add a data center from the 3 dots in the upper right hand corner.

This is as easy as naming your data center and adding it to a location. So it appears neatly on the map.

As you can see my homelab is somewhere in the north sea 🙂

Now go to the Manage vCenter Servers and add a vCenter server. This should be pretty straight forward.

Now that this is set up I can create a new vRSLCM environment for my vRA 7.3 instance. To do this go to the create environments section and create a new environment using the wizard. Fill in the environment details as shown here.

Administrator email address and default passwords are not shown in this picture. At the bottom of the screen select which products you want to install or import. In my case I will only import my vRA 7.3 instance.

Click Create Environment and go through al the sections where you have to fill in all the details about the environment that is being imported. After that the product shows up in the environment.

This covers the basics on how to start with vRSLCM and add an existing product to it.

Upgrading vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager

What I found is that vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager is very picky on what versions of products work with which version on vRSLCM. For instance, you cannot upgrade vRA 7.3 to vRA 7.3.1 with vRSLCM 1.1. You can also not do a greenfield install of vRA 7.3 with vRSLCM 1.2. So you might have to consider what option best suites your needs. In my case I have just set up vRSLCM 1.1 with a vRA 7.3 environment. The next step now is to upgrade vRSLCM. When you upgrade vRSLCM, the environments stay intact at the version you had them.

The easiest way to do the upgrade is to go to Settings -> Update and install the upgrade from the VMware repository. It is also possible to download the update ISO file or vRSLCM and attach it to the VM and choose CD-ROm as upgrade source.

When this is done you should find all the data centers, environments and products still intact in the new version. It even moved my home lab to the correct location on the map 🙂

Now that vRSLCM is upgraded to the latest version lets move on.

Upgrading vRA

Before a product upgrade (or installation for that matter) can be done from vRSLCM I have to set up the vRSLCM repository with the correct ISO or OVA files. To do this head over to settings -> Product Binaries. Here I can set up a location where I will host my OVA and ISO files. This can either be local to vRSLCM or an NFS share. It is also possible to connect your My VMware account and have all products you are entitled to show up automatically. In my case I have downloaded the files and put them on an NFS share.

Because I am only doing an upgrade I just need the updaterepo.iso file so I will add this to the vRSLCM repository.

Now I head back to the environments and find my vRA 7.3 product sitting there waiting to be upgraded. Click on the 3 dots and choose Upgrade.

In the next window take some extra care. Here you have to specify to what version the product will be upgraded and what repository will be used. If you want to specifically use the vRSLCM repository you have to choose that here. If you leave the Default option, it will download the updated files from the VMware repo on the internet.

I actually made this ‘mistake’ so my upgrade ended up downloading everything from internet, even though I had the ISO ready to be used in my vRSLCM repository. Click upgrade to start and get some coffee as this can take some time.

You can keep track of the progress in vRSLCM through the Requests section.

Error, fix and retry

To be honest, this process didn’t complete successfully the first time and I got a strange error. After troubleshooting this I figured out that I was the one who caused this issue. A while back I was fiddling around with host names and my DNS setup. For some reason the IaaS management agent was trying to connect to a wrong vRA Appliance hostname. After fixing this I could simply retry the upgrade operation from vRSLCM.

This time the upgrade went very smooth and after a while the progress showed 100% completion.

Conclusion

vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager is a very nice addition to the vRealize Suite of products and I can see the added value here. It really makes managing your products a lot simpler and gives some great insight when it comes to the different configurations. I also like the fact that you can manage passwords and certificates centrally although I have yet to dive deeper in to these features. The same goes for the content management feature that was introduced in version 1.2. I will probably set up a pipeline and play around with this soon, so keep an eye out for more on vRealize Suite Lifecycle Manager.

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